Tag Archives: Garlic

Summer Stir Fry

Sometimes at the end of the week, we have a number of veggies left over in the fridge that didn’t make their way into the wonderful dishes we planned.  That’s when we get stir fry crazy!!!  Yes, we have made variations on the recipe below a number of times, but we keep coming back to this one because it super easy, tastes amazing and is a power punch of nutrition.
Serves 2
250 grams broccoli
250 grams cauliflower
2 medium zucchini, chopped in large chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, chopped in large chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (about 2 small dried peppers)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
½  tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1.  In a steamer basket, steam the broccoli, cauliflower, and potato for 10-15 minutes until tender but still firm.
2.  In a large saute pan or wok, heat the olive oil and add the garlic.  Cook until the garlic starts to turn brown.
3.  Add the red pepper flakes and cook a few more minutes.
4.  Add the broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and potato to the garlic, oil and red pepper.  Stir fry until the vegetables are tender and covered with the garlic.
5.  Add the basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional Information:
341 Calories; 21 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 36 g Carbohydrates; 9 g Fiber; 9 g Protein
Oh, and by the way, you get 332% of daily recommended intake of Vitamin C and 179% of your recommended intake of Vitamin K in one serving!! Also, this recipe is strongly anti-inflammatory (read more about inflammation here…)
What veggies do you like to throw into your stir fry?
Alf Hana!!!

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Wara Eynab)

Although stuffed grape leaves probably did not originate in Egypt, they are one of the favorite foods of Egyptians.  If you are invited to an Egyptian home for dinner, you will most likely be served stuffed grape leaves (or stuffed vegetables of some kind).

The Lebanese version of stuffed grape leaves is originally vegan, but it is not exactly the version Egyptians have come to love.  So, below, you will find our veganized version of Egyptian stuffed grape leaves, based, of course, on Mary’s mother’s recipe!

Makes about 50 stuffed leaves (Serves about 6, as a side dish)
For the rice mix:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup rice, raw
1 onion, minced
1 tomato, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
About half a kilo (500 g) or 50 grape leaves.  These can be fresh or preserved in liquid in a jar.  (I have used both and this time, I used them from a jar.)

Grape leaves reserved in a jar

For layering the pot:
3 garlic cloves (in slices to be placed between layers of stuffed leaves)
2 tomatoes (in slices for the bottom, top and between layers of stuffed leaves)
For the soup:
4 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
Prepare the rice mix:
1.  Mix the rice, minced garlic, onion, tomato, dried mint, pepper, salt, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.

Mix for stuffed grape leaves

Prepare the leaves:
2.  Whether you are using preserved or fresh leaves, you will need to rinse and  ‘blanch’ them.  [To ‘blanch’:  Boil about a liter of water in a pot.  Prepare another liter of cold water in a bowl.  In bunches, put the leaves in the boiling water for 3 minutes and then remove them and place them in the cold water for a few minutes.  Then, drain in a colander.]

Blanching - cold water bath after boiling

Begin wrapping:
3.  Each leaf has a shiny side and a duller side.  The dull side also is where you can see the stem of the leaf.  Be sure to have the shiny side facing down as you wrap.  Be gentle as you work with the leaves.  They can be very fragile.

Grape leaf - shiny side

4.  On the bottom of a medium-sized soup pot, layer some of the leaves that got ripped as you ‘blanched them’, any stems you don’t want and a few tomatoes and garlic.  Now, you will begin to make the stuffed leaves and layer them in the pot.

Preparing the bottom of the pan...

5.  With the leaf shiny side down, spoon a heaping teaspoon of rice mixture close to the stem of the leaf.  Begin rolling the leaf stem-side first.  I always gather the sides along as I go, which makes for a tighter, neater roll.

Preparing to roll - shiny side down - see the stem?

Put the teaspoon of rice mixture close to the stem

Begin rolling from the stem side first.

I like to gather the sides toward the center as I roll.

I am gathering the sides

Roll tightly all the way to the end.

And you're done!

6.  Once you finish a layer, add more tomato and garlic slices.  Be sure your layer is as even and complete as you can make it.  If you want to present this in the traditional serving style, this will make a difference.

Time to add tomato and garlic

7.  Continue until you fill up the pot.  Don’t forget to add tomato and garlic slices between each layer and on the final layer (on top!)
8.  Cover the top layer with a heavy inverted plate.  This will help keep all the rolls stable as they cook.

Make the soup:
9.  Mix the 4 cups of water and 2 bouillon cubes in a small pot over medium heat.  Heat until boiling.

10.  Pour the soup over the stuffed layers (and plate) until the soup covers the plate.  Cover the pot with a lid and cook on medium low heat for about 30 – 45 minutes.  Check towards the end to be sure nothing is burning.  You’ll know the rolls are ready once most of the liquid is gone.
11.  Remove the plate from the top layer.  Check that the rice is done.
For traditional serving style:
12.  Cover the top of the pot with a large plate (large enough so the edges extend over the pot).  Holding the pot handles and the plate at the same time, flip the pot over so the contents will now be on the plate.  (If your pot was the right size, this should work fine for you.  Mine was a bit large this time.)  When you remove the pot, you should have a well stacked, pretty presentation for your stuffed grape leaves.  (You can easily remove the broken leaves, stems, and tomatoes we added on the bottom of the pot, which will now appear on the top of your stack.)
OR – if this doesn’t work out for you, you can serve them on a plate – no biggy!

These will melt in your mouth with garlicy goodness!!!

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • Serve with non-dairy yogurt ( 😦  We don’t have that in Egypt – but it would be delicious…)
  • Serve as a side dish or main dish!
  • Instead of tomatoes and garlic, you can use lemon slices and / or lemon juice between layers.
  • Serve hot or cold. (We like them both ways!!!)

Nutritional Information (for 1 stuffed grape leaf):
Calories:  28; Fat: less than 1 g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 4g; Fiber: less than 1 g; Protein: less than 1 g

Alf Hana!!

Fetta – the Food of Feasts

It’s that time of year – holidays are just around the corner!  We’ve all got those special dinners on our minds.  Holiday dinners in Egypt really are FEASTS.  No matter what holiday we’re celebrating, there never fails to be an overwhelming amount of food!

One of the traditional foods served at holiday meals here is called fetta.  I first was introduced to fetta by a dear friend, Maha, who had invited me to share the special meal with her family.  She knew I was vegetarian and was creative enough to ‘veganize’ her main dish, ‘fetta’, so I could also eat it.  So, even though every one else was eating this meal with meat on top, I got to enjoy a special vegan version just for me.

Isn’t it funny how food can bring us together?  Even though I was quite the outsider at the time, a simple adjustment made me feel like one of the family.  I was vegan among non vegans, non Egyptian among Egyptians and Christian among Muslims when I first fell in love with fetta.  I later discovered that almost all Egyptians – Christians and Muslims use fetta as a dish to celebrate their feasts!  Maybe if we keep looking for more similarities, we’ll keep finding them and stop focusing on our differences!  So, thanks to Maha, I am able now to share this recipe with you.

To all our Muslim friends who will be celebrating the feast next week: Happy Feast!

Serves 6-8
2 3/4 loaves (rounds) of baladi bread (or pita bread), toasted in the oven
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 cups water
2 cups white rice
4 cups water
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
Tomato Sauce:
8 small to medium sized tomatoes, pureed (this is about 2 3/4 cup of tomato puree)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Garlic Sauce:
3 tablespoons oil
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of vinegar
Make the rice.
1.  Wash the rice, remove any bits of dirt or stone.  Drain in a strainer.
2.  In a large pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil.  Add 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and the 2 cups of rice to the mix and return to a boil.
3.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  The rice is ready when it is tender and the water has disappeared.
4.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the soup.
5.  Bring 1 vegetable bouillon cube and 2 cups of water to the boil.
6.  Make sure the cube has dissolved.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the bread by toasting it in the oven.  When toasted, cool.  Then coarsely tear into bite size pieces and set aside.
Make the tomato sauce.
7.  Puree the tomatoes.  Add to a pot with the tomato paste.  Heat on very low heat, stirring occasionally.  Leave to simmer while you make the garlic sauce.

Make the garlic sauce.
8.  Put three tablespoons of oil in a skillet and heat.  Add the minced garlic and fry until the garlic becomes golden.  

Remove from the heat, add the 1/4 cup of vinegar.  Stir and return to heat to boil for about half a minute.
Mix the garlic sauce with the soup and the tomato sauce.
9.  Add half the prepared garlic sauce to the soup and heat on low heat.

Soup with added garlic sauce

10.  Add the other half of the prepared garlic sauce to the tomato sauce and continue simmering for a few more minutes.

Tomato sauce with added garlic sauce

Build the Feta:
11.  In a large casserole dish, place half the bread directly on the bottom of the dish.
12.  Wet the bread with 1/2 cup of the soup with added garlic sauce.

Pour the soup (with garlic) on the bread.

13.  Spread 1/2 of the cooked rice on top of the moist bread.

Place a layer of rice over the moist bread.

14.  Pour another 1/2 cup of the soup with added garlic sauce over the rice.
15.  Spread the rest of the dried, torn bread pieces on top of the rice.

Add the rest of the bread

16.  Pour another 1/2 cup of the soup with added garlic sauce over the bread.
17.  Add the rest of the rice on top of the bread.
18.  Pour the last of the soup with added garlic sauce over the rice.

Add the last of the rice and soup (with garlic)

19.  Top the casserole with the simmering tomato sauce with added garlic sauce.

Fetta topped with tomato and garlic sauce

Serve hot (and it’s best eaten on the same day)!!!

Nutritional information (for 1 of 6 servings):

Calories: 405; Fat: 10g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 70g; Fiber 5g; Protein: 8g

Alf Hana!

The Ancient Soup of Kings (Molokheyia)

It is said that molokheyia is one TRULY Egyptian recipe, originating with the pharaohs.  Its name (according to Wikipedia) actually means “for kings and nobles”.  Today, as all my Egyptian readers know, it is a staple food for Egyptians.  And we PROMISE that it is just as absolutely delicious when prepared in the following vegan version as it is when prepared in the traditional way (and a lot healthier, too!).

What is Molokheyia?

Fresh Molokheyia leaves

Molokheyia (corchorus oltorius) is a dark green leafy plant that is full of antioxidants, iron and calcium.  You can buy it fresh, dried, or frozen.  If you buy it fresh, you’ll have to use a special knife to mince it.  It must be minced into very tiny pieces in order to make the soup.  The easiest form to use (in my humble opinion) is the frozen kind.  (Many Egyptian cooks will tell you that the only way to eat it is fresh, but oh well….)

There are many specific ways to prepare molokheyia.  And every cook has her own opinion about how to do it.  This recipe is based on Mary’s mother’s recipe.  We have adjusted it ever so slightly to reduce the amount of fat.  However, from our experience, the difference in taste is not noticeable.  Also, if you have never had molokheyia before, be sure to try to achieve the slippery, “slimy” consistency, which is basically done by not adding too much water and not allowing the soup to boil over.  Follow our directions and you’ll have a very tasty, rich green soup perfect to kill any cold before it starts!

Serves 2-4


  • 1  400 g (14 oz) bag of frozen molokheyia
  • 500 ml (about 2 cups) of water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

1.  In a large pot on medium heat, add the water, bouillon cubes and molokheyia.  Stir frequently.

Frozen Molokheyia

2.  After the molokheyia has thawed, turn down the heat and add the garlic.  Leave to cook about 10-15 minutes.  Stir frequently and keep your eye on the pot.  (The soup should not boil.)
3.  Serve hot.

Molokheyia and Rice

Molokheyia, Rice and ONIONS!

Mary illustrates the slimy (but DELICIOUS) texture....

Up close...

Nutrition Information (for 1/2 of this recipe):

Calories: 111; Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 18g; Fiber: 3g; Protein 1g

Serving Suggestions and Variations:
1.  Serve over a bed of rice.
2.  Serve with baladi (or pita) bread.
3.  Serve with plain raw onions (or soak them in a bit of vinegar first).
4.  Instead of adding the garlic to cook in the soup, heat up a tablespoon of oil in a separate small skillet.  Fry the garlic with some salt and coriander.  Once the garlic has turned a light golden color, add the garlic mix to the soup.  Serve immediately.  (Most Egyptians eat molokheyia this way.)
5.  Add some tomatoes to the soup while cooking.

For the Love of Lentils: Brown Lentil Soup

Oh, dear lentil, how I love thee!!!! Let me count the ways!!!

One of the easiest ways is this brown lentil soup. Egyptians affectionately call it ‘lentils with a hat’. It packs a powerful protein punch, is full of iron and fiber and low on fat and calories.  Perfect!


  • 2 cups dried brown lentils
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced

Serves: 4-6
1.  Wash the lentils and pick out any small stones or dirt.


Dry brown lentils

2.  Put them in a large pot with the water, bouillon cubes, and garlic.
3.  Cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.
4.  Salt to taste.

Nutrition Information: (per 100 grams)

Calories: 51; Fat: 0g; Carbohydrates: 9g; Fiber: 4g; Protein: 4g

Serving suggestions and variations:
Serve this with raw green or red onions and pita or baladi (or pita) bread.

Brown Lentil Soup, Green Onions and Baladi Bread

Also, you may add greens like chard to add flavor and nutrients.

Red Lentil Soup

Do you feel the urge for something hearty and healthy?  This soup, full of vitamins and antioxidants, will provide a filling, nutritious meal all on its own!  And it doesn’t take very much effort at all!!

Serves 8-10.  Feed your company and have some left for lunch!


  • 2 cups of dry red lentils
  • 4 small-size tomatoes
  • 3 small carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 liters of vegetable stock (or 2 liters of water with 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon)


1.  Pick through the dried lentils and remove any stones / dirt.  Rinse in a strainer.

Red lentils

2.  Chop the onion, tomatoes, carrots, and green pepper.  (You don’t have to chop them too much, since we will blend them all after cooking.)


3.  Add the lentils and all the vegetables to a large pot.

Red lentil soup before cooking

4.  Add the vegetable stock (or water and bouillon) and bring to a boil.  Cook for about a half hour.  Keep your eye on the pot, though!  Lentils cook pretty quickly, and you don’t want them to burn.  Once they are cooked down into a mushy texture, you’ll know they’re done.

5.  Blend in a food processor.  (This step is optional.  Some people like to eat it more like a stew.  But, most Egyptians I know eat it blended.)

Red lentil soup

6.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Doesn’t that just look amazing?!  Full of antioxidants, this meal is great to help prevent those fall and winter colds!

Red Lentil Soup Nutrition Information


  • Some people like to fry up some onions and mix them in at the end.
  • Eat with croutons.
  • Eat with warm balady (Egyptian pita) bread.
  • Some people eat this on rice.

*The nutrition information to the left is for 100 g.  That’s about 3/4 of a cup, or a small bowl.